There’s a shortage of skilled workers for the growing marijuana sector, where demand for the product is outrunning supply, says an Edmonton-area cannabis company.
That’s why Freedom Cannabis, operating out of a 126,000-sq.-ft. facility just west of Edmonton in Acheson, is facilitating a training class, alongside NorQuest College, to help give students the knowledge required to work in all realms of the industry.
“Growing and operating in a highly regulated environment requires people that understand the ramifications of being in this environment,” said Freedom Cannabis co-founder Troy Dezwart. “The more trained and the more educated they are, the better the work environment is and the higher-quality products we can create.”
The classes include online components but also involve three eight-and-a-half-hour days at the Acheson facility, where students learn the entire process of cannabis production, from trimming and hanging plants to sanitation standards and record-keeping.
While the course is training workers for entry-level jobs, Dezwart said they represent a good way to enter the cannabis industry, which he only expects to further grow.
“It’s an opportunity for people who are interested in getting into the industry to get in at the ground level,” Dezwart said. “It’s a great way to get them into the system and to get their feet wet, so to speak, and from there, the opportunities will present themselves.”
According to Statistics Canada, the cannabis workforce in the country more than tripled between 2018 and 2019, with over 9,000 Canadians now working in the sector.
Though the industry is growing, Dezwart says heavy regulations by Health Canada mean companies have to be diligent about staying onside with federal regulations.
“It’s a complex and difficult environment to operate in if you’re not very prepared,” he said. “For us, we spent a lot of time looking at our peers, at the successes and failings of other companies in the industry.”